Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Who cares about truth?

This may be the great age of the autodidact. For the first time in history, a person can access a significant fraction of the world's knowledge, from home, without investing heavily in books. The internet should make it possible for the intelligent person of low income to become truly knowledgeable.
I remember an English professor, who told us of his military service, and spoke warmly of a sergeant, a man who kept a shelf of Great Books next to his cot, and who spent every free moment perusing them. This kind of autodidact is like a character out of a Jack London story, a working class man with an insatiable thirst for knowledge, a type of person increasingly rare today.
Why does it seem that so few of the working class care about knowledge? One might well retort, "why do so few of the middle class care about knowledge?" Knowledge itself has fallen out of esteem. Beauty is as fashionable as ever, but truth has become a bit risible. Why so? Why do young people no longer dream over maps? Why do students act as if only motivated by status and income, and not at all by insight and understanding?
Perhaps I like Wikipedia because I detect in so many of the editors a love of knowledge that is not often found elsewhere.

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